Thursday, November 8, 2018
1) Opening prayer
God of power and mercy,
only with Your help
can we offer You fitting service and praise.
May we live the faith we profess
and trust Your promise of eternal life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Luke 15:1-10
The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So Jesus addressed this parable to them. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. "Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, 'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.' In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
• The Gospel today presents the first one of three parables united by the same word. It is a question of three things which were lost: the lost sheep (Lk 15:3-7), the lost drachma (Lk 15:8-10), and the lost son (Lk 15:11-32). The three parables are addressed to the Pharisees and to the doctors of the law who criticized Jesus (Lk 15:1-3). That is, they are addressed to the Pharisee and to the scribe or doctor of the law which is in each one of us.
• Luke 15:1-3: Those to whom the parables are addressed. The first three verses describe the context in which the three parables were pronounced: “At that time, the tax collectors and sinners were all crowding round to listen to Him. The Pharisees and scribes complained”. On one side there were the tax collectors and the sinners; on the other the Pharisees and the doctors of the law. Luke speaks, exaggerating somewhat: “The tax collectors and the sinners were all crowding round to listen to Jesus”. There was something in Jesus which attracted them. It is the word of Jesus which attracts them (cf. Isa 50:4). They want to listen to Him. This is a sign that they do not feel condemned, but rather they feel accepted by Him. The criticism of the Pharisees and the scribes is the following: "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” When sending out the seventy-two disciples (Lk 10:1-9), Jesus had ordered them to accept the excluded, the sick, the possessed (Mt 10:8; Lk 10:9) and to gather them for the banquet (Lk 10:8).
• Luke 15:4: The Parable of the lost sheep. The parable of the lost sheep begins with a question: “Which one of you, with a hundred sheep, if he lost one, would fail to leave the ninety-nine and go after the missing one until he found it?” Before giving a response, Jesus must have looked around to see who was listening to Him to see how they would have answered. The question is formulated in such a way that the response can only be a positive one: “Yes, he will go after the lost sheep!” And you, how would you answer? Would you leave the ninety-nine in the field to go and look for the only one which got lost? Who would do this? Probably, the majority would have answered, “Jesus, who among us? Nobody would do such an absurd thing. The proverb says: “Better one bird in the hand than one hundred flying around!”
• Luke 15:5-7: Jesus interprets the parable of the lost sheep. Now, in the parable, the shepherd does what nobody would do: to leave everything and to go and look for the lost sheep. God alone can assume such an attitude! Jesus wants us to become aware, conscious of the Pharisee or the scribe which is in each one of us. The Pharisees and the scribes abandoned the sinners and excluded them. They would have never gone to look for the lost sheep. They would have allowed it to get lost in the desert. They preferred the ninety-nine. But Jesus places Himself in the place of the sheep which got lost, which in the context of the official religion, would fall into despair without the hope of being accepted. Jesus makes them and us know: “If you feel that you are a lost sinner, remember that for God you are worth more than the other ninety-nine sheep. And in the case that you are converted, know that there will be “greater joy in heaven for a sinner who is converted, than for ninety-nine just who do not need conversion.”
• Luke 15:8-10: Parable of the lost drachma. The second Parable: "Or again, what woman with ten drachmas would not, if she lost one, light a lamp and sweep out the house and search thoroughly until she found it? Then, when she had found it, call together her friends and neighbors saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, I have found the drachma I lost. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing among the angels of God over one repentant sinner’”. God rejoices with us. The angels rejoice with us. The parable serves to communicate hope to those who were threatened with despair because of the official religion. This message recalls what God tells us in the book of the prophet Isaiah: "Look, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands!” (Isa 49: 16). “Since, I regard you as precious, since you are honored and I love you!” (Isa 43: 4).
4) Personal questions
• Would you go out to look for the lost sheep?
• Do you think that today the Church is faithful to this parable of Jesus?
• Who are the lost sheep today? Are they sinners? Are they non-believers? Are they those who are misled in their beliefs?
• Is there a person responsibility in looking for and finding lost sheep, or is it just an institutional one – just for the Church and bishops and pastors?
5) Concluding prayer
Seek Yahweh and His strength,
tirelessly seek His presence!
Remember the marvels He has done,
His wonders, the judgments He has spoken. (Ps 105:4-5)